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HomeNewsLocal governmentGovernor’s Office Updates Community on Hurricane Preparedness Efforts

Governor’s Office Updates Community on Hurricane Preparedness Efforts

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During the weekly Government House briefing on Monday, Communications Director Richard Motta stressed the Bryan-Roach Administration’s commitment to keeping the community informed as the territory gets closer to the peak of this year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season. VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen, Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion and Human Services Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez provided hurricane preparedness updates.

Motta introduced Daryl Jaschen, who provided an update on the weather that may impact the territory over the next several days – specifically the passage of Tropical Storm Franklin – which was 240 miles south of the Dominican Republic. Winds from Tropical Storm Franklin were recorded at 50 miles per hour, Jaschen said, and the storm was moving west at 6 miles per hour. TS Franklin was expected to turn northward toward Hispaniola on Tuesday, bringing 1-2 inches of rain to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Unsettled weather was expected through early Wednesday, with rains from TS Franklin’s outer rainbands, windy conditions and thunderstorm activity.

“There are currently no tropical storm watches or warnings for the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Jaschen said. With an emphasis on preparedness, he provided tips for the public to follow for the remaining 60 days of hurricane season, including placing important documents in waterproof containers, keeping gas tanks half full and securing a 90-day supply of prescription medications.

In her remarks, Department of Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion said that in addition to emergency supplies such as canned goods, water, batteries and flashlights, individuals should remember that an emergency supply kit should also have items to meet medical needs.

In addition, the V.I. Department of Health is responsible for opening a Special Medical Needs Shelter for people requiring special medical assistance. Those eligible for the Special Medical Needs Shelter have physical or mental conditions that require medical or nursing oversight that cannot be accommodated or provided for in a general population shelter.

“We provide, to the extent possible, under emergency conditions, an environment in which the current level of health of persons with special medical needs is maintained,” Encarnacion said.

Referrals will be screened through a pre-registration process by the V.I. Department of Human Services and/or V.I. Department of Health nursing staff. The VI Department of Health hotline numbers are 712-6299 and 776-1519.

Encarnacion said that last week the Department of Health announced that for the first time, the territory will have access to the Joint Patient Assessment and Tracking System, or JPATS, which tracks evacuated patients from the moment they leave our shores until they reach their final care destination. With JPATS, the Health Department will be able to seamlessly share patient data with providers to maintain continuity of care in a confidential manner, Encarnacion said. Families can be promptly notified of the location and status of loved ones and will be able to identify needs in real-time to direct resources.

Commissioner Kimberley Causey-Gomez of the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services provided an update on the territory’s evacuation shelters, which are equipped to house residents who don’t feel safe in their homes following a disaster. Shelter pre-registration is being conducted this week, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. To pre-register, individuals are to call 715-6935.

Shelters throughout the territory have been inspected and will be managed by the Department of Human Services and Red Cross volunteers, Causey-Gomez said. Shelters on St. Croix include the St. Croix Educational Complex gymnasium (capacity 739/allows pets) and DC Canegata (capacity 161). On St. Thomas, shelters will be located at the Lockhart Elementary and Junior High School (capacity 148/allows pets) and Ivanna Eudora Kean High School gymnasium (capacity 460/wheelchair access) and on St. John at the Adrian Senior Center.

Causey-Gomez said confidential registration is ongoing for seniors and disabled individuals who live alone, to enable first responders to conduct wellness checks following a disaster. To register, call 774-0930 ext. 4334 on St. Thomas or 715-6935 on St. Croix.

Motta provided an update on the Territorial ADA Coordinator’s upcoming “Disaster Preparedness and Disease Prevention Expo” for independent living senior citizens and adults with disabilities. The first event will be held on St. Thomas on Friday, Aug. 25, in the Elridge W. Blake Sports and Fitness Center on UVI’s Orville E. Kean campus and on Tuesday, Aug. 29, on St. Croix, in the Great Hall of the UVI Albert A. Sheen campus. Each expo will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with sign-in and limited registration beginning at 9 a.m.

Motta reminded the community that the Office of the Governor invites members of the community to two Town Halls to discuss a remedy for abandoned and derelict buildings throughout the territory. The Town Halls will take place on St. Thomas at 6 p.m., Monday, Aug. 28, in the Charlotte Amalie High School auditorium and at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 30 at the St. Croix Educational Complex.

The Bryan-Roach Administration is investing in the Territory’s people, infrastructure, and future through transparency, stabilizing the economy, restoring trust in the government and ensuring that recovery projects are completed as quickly as possible. Visit https://transparency.vi.gov

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